Meet The Manager

| September 11, 2019 | Reply

“Welcome to passengers arriving on Platform 9. Just to let you know we’re hosting a Meet the Manager event on the concourse today. This is your chance to meet senior managers and share any questions or concerns you have about our services…”

Can you get a better start to the day than that?!

I suppose if you’re the senior manager of the train company, the answer is a resounding yes.

They must hate those things with a passion. I’d love to get a live feed of a manager’s internal monologue as they endure the public from behind a frozen grin.

“And precisely how many train services have you been responsible for running, you mouthy peasant? Have you any idea how complicated this is? You want us to run more services so you can get a seat, but you’re sick of trains going slowly when there’s congestion on the line. THINK BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR HOLE, THERE’S A TRADE OFF!”

They always seem to put these things on during rush hour. It’s a smart move – it makes it look like they’re keen to meet loads of people, but actually everyone is in a rush so they can’t stop (especially if their train was late).

Certainly that’s why I’ve never stopped to meet a manager. If I ever do, I think I’ll ask for an autograph.

Ideally there’ll be someone right in the middle of a marathon moan, so I can interrupt and enjoy their empurpled face as I lavish praise on their adversary.

“Can I just say, I’m a huge fan of your train company. I’ve got all your timetables. Can I get a selfie?”

I feel the poor sods need the support.

Now, you might be thinking I’m misguided there. That these are senior managers, paid well, and this is part of their job.

To which I’d reply, “No”.

To quote a well-known parable, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

We’re encouraged to hate on management types as it distracts us from opposing the system they’re a part of.

Meet the Manager is the latest in a long line of corporate wheezes that seek to convince us that Business is human and kind and not a collection of sociopathic entities that make a virtue of subordinating everything and everyone to the Holy Goal of More Money.

If you don’t believe me, pick a random company and take a look at their articles of association or read their annual report.

Odds on, what you read will be all about making their shareholders richer and that’s basically all that matters.

It’s not necessarily wrong that companies are run in this way. You can prevent a lot of bad behaviour and encourage good stuff by having rules and laws and enforcing them properly.

Let Business prioritise profit, and punish it if it takes the piss.

Except, Business has a habit of whining that rules get in the way, as if that’s automatically a bad thing.

Behind the scenes they lobby and spin, while we see various initiatives designed to show they’re Listening.

It’s as tedious as the constant attempts many companies make to show how they’re Different.

I was once tasked with writing a load of web pages for a company. Every brief revolved around showing how they were different (without ever fully explaining how).

I had absolutely no idea how to write a website, so I went online.

Reams and reams of articles, written in that annoying way those things are that’s all about getting them to the top of Google for a particular search term.

All of them imploring people writing web pages for businesses to show why that business is Different.

We can’t all be different. It’s not entirely clear why we should always want to be.

On a related note – because I’ve gone into full lifestyle columnist mode – I will never understand the concept of keeping up with fashion.

I see people spending hours reading websites all about what’s in fashion. Then they buy the clothes on those sites.

You’d be forgiven for thinking, therefore, that the object of the exercise is to wear what other people are wearing.

Logically, turning up to an event and finding someone else is wearing the same clothes should be a source of delight. A sure sign that both of you are doing it right.

We all know that’s not how it works.

Everyone wants to be Different. While also fitting in.

The truth is, none of us is special, businesses only care about themselves, and the managers of train companies no more care about your views as you care about their feelings.

On that cheery note, have a super day.

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